After the inning started with back-to-back singles for Nashua Post 3, Bristol relief pitcher Nick Hurd struck out the next batter and then forced an infield fly. For a moment, it looked like Bristol’s newly claimed advantage would be safe.
But Nashua third baseman Tim Donovan had other plans.
Donovan doubled to scored both runs and then reached home on an error during the next at-bat to give his team the largest lead of the game. Nashua carried its momentum into the seventh inning, adding three more runs to defeat Bristol 7-2 in the opening round of the Junior Legion State Tournament at Gill Stadium in Manchester on Friday.
Since the tournament is double elimination, Bristol will play the loser of Jaffrey and Lebanon on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Nashua will play the winner of Jaffrey and Lebanon at 7:30 p.m.
The game stayed close through five innings as Bristol starting pitcher Ryan Pluskis held Nashua to one run. But he struggled with control, throwing 96 pitches and walking five batters.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Bean said. “He did his job, but even he knows he was throwing more balls than he should have.”
Both teams scored a run in the first inning. Donovan drove in the first run of the game for Nashua and Bristol responded in the bottom of the inning when Cameron Patridge singled and then scored on a wild pitch.
The score held until the bottom of the fifth inning when Bristol claimed its first and only lead of the game. After Craig LeBrun doubled, Zach Desrochers brought him home with a groundball. But Bristol couldn’t add any insurance and Nashua took advantage.
After taking the lead with three runs in the sixth inning, Nashua started the seventh inning with a walk and double. Brendan Barrett followed with a double that scored two runs and then Andy Williams singled to bring Barrett home and produce the final score.
“We had them where we wanted to,” LeBrun said. “But then we lost focus and started making errors. [Saturday] we need to work on staying very focused and not letting anything interfere with that,”
Bristol finished with just four hits, two from Patridge. Nashua put together 10 hits with six coming in the sixth and seventh innings. Bean said that Bristol needs to take advantage of its offensive chances. The team left six runners on base, including three in the third inning.
“We had a couple of opportunities on offense and we didn’t produce,” Bean said.
Donovan finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run for Nashua while Barrett went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. Patridge ended the day 2-for-4 with a run for Bristol. Desrochers picked up the team’s only RBI.
Bean said he expects his team to recover from the loss and play well on Saturday. Bristol recently bounced back from a fourgame regular season losing streak by winning its last two games of the year and earning a place in the tournament.
“We’ve felt like this before,” he said. “We just got out of the dumps last week.”